As of yesterday afternoon––according to multiple news reports––former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice had won the appeal of his indefinite suspension, meaning he is now free to sign with any NFL team.
But the big question still remains: will there be a team willing to sign the 27-year old back?
At this point, I don’t see his off-field troubles being the factor that prevents him from signing with a new team. I don’t think that’ll be an issue. The issue here is whether there’s a team willing to take a chance on him after he’s been away from action for several months and the fact he’s coming off the worst season of his career (660 yards, 4 TD, 3.1 yards/carry on 214 attempts and 15 starts for Baltimore in 2013).
Luckily for Rice, however, there are several teams that are desperate at the RB position, and could use a veteran back to assist them as they make a late run for the postseason. Here are a few teams that could take a chance on him:
Andrew Luck has been airing it out more than ever this season, which has worked well for the Colts. But with three running backs on the injured reserve, including their best back in Ahmad Bradshaw, they sure could use some assistance if they’d like to make a deep run in the playoffs out of the AFC this year. Trent Richardson, one of Indy’s few healthy RBs, is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry on 127 attempts this season (433 yards, 3 TDs). Rice could be a boost in Indy’s backfield.
I honestly don’t see the Broncos signing Rice at all, but given how thin they are at the running back position you just never know. Ronnie Hillman is out indefinitely and Montee Ball is likely to miss a few more weeks. This leaves the unproven C.J. Anderson as the No. 1 back in Peyton Manning’s Broncos offense. Anderson is likely to be their workhorse over the next several weeks and he’s already shown what he can do as he ran for 167 yards and a touchdown a week ago against the Dolphins. Rice could be an option to add for backfield depth, though.
At 9-2, the Cardinals should be able to manage a top two seed in the postseason even without QB Carson Palmer under center. But the Cards currently rank 31st in the league in rushing offense (862 yards, 6 TDs, 3.1 YPC), and there’s no doubt that Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor could use a little help coming out of the backfield. The two backs have combined for four rushing touchdowns and just 3.3 yards per carry over their 221 total carries. It also wouldn’t hurt to have a veteran with plenty of playoff experience. Sure, the Cardinals just signed veteran Michael Bush this week, but I don’t think that necessarily rules Rice to Arizona out completely.
Other Potential Suitors:
New Orleans Saints
New York Giants
Personally, I don’t believe a team will end up signing Rice this season, despite plenty of needs at the RB position. But you can certainly expect him to find a new team prior to the 2015 regular season, if he doesn’t find a 2014 team.
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